News, Culture & Society

3 Types of Email Cyber Attacks & How to Guard Against Them

Email is something that seems so harmless. But there’s a deep underbelly hiding behind that innocent, useful application. Email is actually one of the most common places to launch a cyber-attack. Over 90 percent of all targeted attacks begin in a spear phishing email, as reported by Trend Micro.

Due to this high level of threat, it’s necessary to protect against email attackers. Here are three types of common email cyber attacks and how to guard against them.


Phishing works by tricking email users into clicking on links or giving away sensitive information by presenting the message as legitimate. It’s always wise to take some time to ensure you’re not falling for a phishing scam when sending personal information online.

There are a few things you can do to protect yourself from phishing scams:

  • Keep web browsers, firewalls, and operating systems updated is going to give you some baseline protection from a variety of online threats. It’s wise to always do this for your personal and business computers and smart devices.
  • Use a secure email gateway to limit incoming threats. You’re going to be in a much better place if you don’t even allow most attacks to get to your inbox. Cybersecurity firms like Open Systems provide email protection services that filter spam and malicious emails from your inboxes. This kind of extra security can be especially helpful for more targeted spear phishing attacks. The depth and detail of tailored phishing scams can be surprisingly hard to resist. It’s best employees never even have to see these emails.
  • Educate yourself and your employees. Saying education is important to limiting online risk is an understatement. It’s essential you and all people on your team have a basic understanding of some of the potential threats out there. Team members should be dedicated to saying current on the everchanging landscape of online security.


The term malware is just the most logical way to say malicious software. Today, there are numerous types of attacks that can be considered malware—all of them threats in their own rights. Oftentimes, malware will infect applications or files on a computer. This then allows attackers to exploit those assets or gain control of another part of the system.

Some of the most common types of malware include macro viruses, Trojans, file infectors, ransomware, and spyware.

Defending against malware is going to take a lot of the same tactics as those needed to protect against phishing. Malware is often spread through email or visiting the wrong website. It’s important to both pay attention and be careful when working online. But it’s also wise to build up anti-virus protection. All users should have proper protection when using the Internet. Businesses need to take extra precaution since they often have high volumes of sensitive data. Enterprises should consider the benefit of having their systems protected by dedicated services.


In business, it’s often best to cut out the middleman and go directly to whoever can provide you services. When it comes to IT, man-in-the-middle attacks can be a lot more than just a bad business deal. They can lead to massive problems.

Essentially, man-in-the-middle attacks allow for nefarious parties to interject themselves between a trusted computer and a server. There are a few different types of man-in-the-middle attacks. The most knows ones are session hijacking, IP spoofing, and replaying.

Session hijacking and IP spoofing work in a somewhat similar way. They both involve tricking a server into thinking an attacking computer is actually one that should be trusted through stealing credentials. This can grant an attacker access to information that would otherwise be off limits.

A replay attack works a bit differently, as it tries to apprehend and then resend messages sent by a trusted entity. This can typically be protected against by using timestamps or other tools that don’t allow this type of mechanism. Other types of man-in-the-middle attacks can be limited by using encryption.

It’s essential individuals and businesses do whatever they can to protect themselves from online threats. Email is one of the worst offenders for spreading harmful cyber-attacks. Building a strong defense here needs to be a top priority.